How to Entertain a One Year Old at Home

by Meghan Yost

Hopefully we’ll all be able to leave our houses soon, but in the mean time, I’m sharing how to entertain a one year old at home. These are the things I’m currently doing to keep my daughter Grace busy during the Coronavirus pandemic.

I’m no stranger to being home all the time with a little one, considering I’m a “stay at home mom” and all … but quarantine has me going cray cray. In terms of activities, I’m trying to mix things up as much as possible.

Just know, by no means am I a parenting expert (I’m still learning the ropes, for sure). These are just some things an everyday mom has been doing to make sure her little one is engaged (while also keeping herself sane). And also a note, I’m still letting Grace have her fair share of free play around the house (while I keep a close watch) and letting her watch Sesame Street every now and again. 😉


Grace hasn’t quite figured out yet what to do with play dough, but I’ve enjoyed pulling it apart and showing her how to make shapes. It’s actually kind of a stress reliever. I also give her a few “tools” to use on the dough – a baby spoon, baby bottle cap, etc. If I had cookie cutters, I would give her those, but the bottle cap makes a nice circle cutout. 🤣

I’ve been using this recipe from Mama Papa Bubba for baby play dough. It’s so easy to make and only requires five ingredients: baby oatmeal, corn starch, puree, coconut oil and water. I also use some edible baby paint to add color to it (the first batch came out looking kinda like poop and the second like ground beef so it’s a work in progress).

I love that the ingredients are safe for a baby, but please do remember that while this play dough is technically edible, you should not let your baby or toddler eat it. It could be a choking hazard.

Also, if you haven’t played with play dough in quite some time and need a reminder, don’t put it in the fridge to store it because it makes it hard. I learned that the hard way (#newmom). Instead, put it in a food storage container and leave it out on the counter. It won’t last very long at all though because it contains puree.


Another idea for how to entertain a one year old at home is tissue paper. It’s cheap and simple. Grace absolutely loves crinkling and ripping it. The first time I gave it to her, she was engaged for a solid 20 minutes or maybe even more. She kept going back to it throughout the day. I showed her different things to do with the paper. Just keep a close eye on your toddler in case they try to put it in their mouths.


Spread all of your little one’s favorite books in one area on the floor and let them explore. I’ll read to Grace or let her look through the books. She loves touching pictures and turning pages. Put a bunch of different types of books out: Touch and feel books, noise making books, small books, big books … you get the idea.


If you don’t mind your little one getting a bit messy, Veggie Baby makes some great edible finger paint (it’s the same paint I used to color the play dough mentioned above). It comes in powder form and all you have to do is add water. For an easier cleanup, the Bumpkins Sleeved Bib works great.


I got this idea from blogger Kallie Branciforte of If you haven’t checked out her site, do it now. She’s got lots of tips on parenting, saving money, organization and more.

In one of her instagram stories, I saw that she filled a gallon size ziplock bag with a few different paint colors and taped it to a window so her son could “finger paint.” I went through my (very old) paint supplies and luckily was able to scrounge up some to use.

I may have had more fun “painting” than Grace (just like the play dough) but she was intrigued. It stayed taped to our back door for a few days so we could keep revisiting it. Just a note, be sure your toddler’s finger nails are cut short. Grace scratched the bag, making holes in it and a little bit of paint got out. I just kept putting clear shipping tape over the bag to seal it back up.


If you’re searching how to entertain a one year old at home, this idea is a keeper because you don’t have to purchase anything. While doing some laundry recently, I discovered Grace loves playing “parachute” with a bed sheet. She had so much fun seeing the sheet come down over her and peeking out from underneath it, or peeking underneath it from outside.


Fill a bowl or plastic container with water (I used my salad spinner container 😅) and let your little one use their hands splash around with some small toys, buckets, etc. We did this in the bathroom to make cleanup a bit easier. As always, adult supervision is required when it comes to water!


If the weather is nice, play outside at a water table (or if you’re brave, do it inside with a bunch of towels placed underneath it). Grace received a water table for her first birthday but the weather has been terrible here in Connecticut so we have yet to use it. Looks like some nice weather is coming this weekend though so we’ll finally get to play with it, if we’re lucky!


If lunch got a little messy – or we just need some fun chill out time – I’ll give Grace a bath midday. I like to do it before her last nap so it helps her sleep a bit better. She loves splashing in the tub, plus it means I don’t have to give her a bath later on.


Grace loves to walk up and down our house with her walker. She hasn’t started walking without assistance yet so it’s great practice for her. Plus it burns off a ton of energy.


For her birthday, my parents got Grace a cute pink bunny rider. She’s not quite ready to use it on her own yet so I push her around the house. Grace has fun and I get a good butt/hamstring workout (or maybe the fact that I’m sore just means I’m out of shape. Hehe.)


Grace received an outdoor push car for her birthday and loves wheeling around the driveway or yard. We’ve taken it down the road a bit as well, but it’s a little too bumpy to go far.


We bought Grace this Melissa & Doug Turtle Ball Pit for Christmas, but now that she’s a bit too old to sit inside the turtle, we’ve discovered another way to use it: Dump all of the balls into the crib and let Grace do her thing. She loves throwing the balls out one by one, which as you can imagine takes some time. If you don’t have a ball pit, just collect all of the balls you have around the house and put them in the crib.


Using the lid of a big storage container, I create an angled chute to roll balls down. I use the balls from the ball pit mentioned above, but any balls could work. Grace watches as the balls rolled down and also chases after some.


Okay, I know this isn’t technically an activity you do at home. Also, this is somethings that’s more for my own entertainment, but if I need a bit of time to decompress outside of the house, I’ll take Grace for a ride in the car. She’ll either play with some small toys, look out the window, or snooze. I don’t do this too often because I’d rather Grace take her naps at home and I hate the idea of her being cooped up in a car seat long, but every once in a while, it’s a good option for the both of us.

I hope you enjoyed this rundown of how to entertain a one year old at home. If you have more ideas, please share them below.

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